Vikings’ season ends with missed field goal, loss to Seahawks
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings have a long list of agonizing playoff defeats.
So it seems only fitting that their latest was ripped straight from the plot of "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective."
Kicker Blair Walsh shanked a 27-yard field goal in the closing seconds after holder Jeff Locke couldn’t spin the ball to get the laces out, handing the Seattle Seahawks a 10-9 victory on Sunday in their wild-card playoff round game.
Walsh was the only offense for the Vikings all afternoon at frigid TCF Bank Stadium, where a minus-6 degrees temperature made it the third-coldest NFL game on record.
He hit three field goals from 22, 43 and 47 yards in the first three quarters and lined up for what coach Mike Zimmer called a "chip shot" to send the Vikings to the next round and eliminate the two-time defending NFC champions.
With Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman breathing down their necks, Locke put the ball down with the laces facing toward Walsh, and the kicker pulled it well left.
Surrounded by reporters in the locker room, Walsh refused to put the blame on Locke or long snapper Kevin McDermott.
"It’s my fault," Walsh said. "I don’t care if you give me a watermelon hold, I should be able to kick that through. I know Jeff did his job and Kevin did his job. I’m the only one who didn’t do my job. That’s on me."
Locke said he didn’t feel comfortable enough to spin what was a very slick ball on such a cold day.
"Having the laces out is going to give you better ball contact hitting the leather," Locke said.
"It’s such an exact thing to put a millimeter of your foot on the millimeter of leather that you want. Having a lace mess with that contact, we’re not helping him at all. It just makes it much more difficult."
For a team that lost four Super Bowls in the 1960s and `70s, a divisional playoff game on a desperation pass from Roger Staubach to Drew Pearson in 1975, an NFC title game in 1999 in part because of Gary Anderson’s first miss of the season and the 2010 NFC title game after Brett Favre threw an interception in Saints territory late in the game, this was far from the team’s most gut-wrenching defeats.
But it still stung.
"Snap was maybe a little high," Zimmer said. "It’s a chip shot. He’s got to make it."
In the Ace Ventura comedy, the main villain is a disgraced Miami Dolphins kicker masquerading as a female police lieutenant.
The kicker — Ray Finkle — was blamed for the Dolphins’ loss in the Super Bowl years earlier after missing a game-winning field goal. But Finkle always maintained quarterback and holder Dan Marino was at fault because he couldn’t get the laces out.
"It didn’t feel good off my foot," Walsh said. "I kind of knew right away. It’s just ridiculous. You have to do much better than that and I didn’t."
Walsh was far from the only goat.
–The defense had a 9-0 lead and quarterback Russell Wilson surrounded when he let a shotgun snap get by him in the fourth quarter. But Wilson was able to pick up the ball, fake quarterback Captain Munnerlyn and hit Tyler Lockett for a 35-yard completion that put them in position for the only touchdown of the day — a 3-yard pass to Doug Baldwin.
–Adrian Peterson lost a fumble on a first down reception later in the quarter that led to Seattle’s go-ahead field goal.
"That’s something that will haunt me throughout the offseason," Peterson said.
–The offense failed to put the ball in the end zone all afternoon, settling for three field goals in the first three quarters.
"We’re not in the position to win the game without (Walsh)," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "He was just threading them all game. For us to look down like it was the play that cost us the game is ridiculous."
Still, Zimmer said he can’t help but wonder how far this team could have gone were it not for one kick that went awry.
"We’ll never know," the coach said, getting a little choked up. "We did a lot of things that a lot of people didn’t think we could’ve done. And I think that’s what hurts the most is that we don’t get an opportunity to continue to do that."
NOTES: Vikings rookie CB Trae Waynes had his first career interception while playing in place of an injured Terence Newman. … Teddy Bridgewater was 17 for 24 for 146 yards. … Peterson had 45 yards rushing on 23 carries. … The Seahawks will play top-seeded Carolina next week.
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